This paper investigates how to efficiently transition and update policies, trained initially with demonstrations, using off-policy actor-critic reinforcement learning. It is well-known that techniques based on Learning from Demonstrations, for example behavior cloning, can lead to proficient policies given limited data. However, it is currently unclear how to efficiently update that policy using reinforcement learning as these approaches are inherently optimizing different objective functions. Previous works have used loss functions which combine behavioral cloning losses with reinforcement learning losses to enable this update, however, the components of these loss functions are often set anecdotally, and their individual contributions are not well understood. In this work we propose the Cycle-of-Learning (CoL) framework that uses an actor-critic architecture with a loss function that combines behavior cloning and 1-step Q-learning losses with an off-policy pre-training step from human demonstrations. This enables transition from behavior cloning to reinforcement learning without performance degradation and improves reinforcement learning in terms of overall performance and training time. Additionally, we carefully study the composition of these combined losses and their impact on overall policy learning. We show that our approach outperforms state-of-the-art techniques for combining behavior cloning and reinforcement learning for both dense and sparse reward scenarios. Our results also suggest that directly including the behavior cloning loss on demonstration data helps to ensure stable learning and ground future policy updates.
We discuss different types of human-robot interaction paradigms in the context of training end-to-end reinforcement learning algorithms. We provide a taxonomy to categorize the types of human interaction and present our Cycle-of-Learning framework for autonomous systems that combines different human-interaction modalities with reinforcement learning. Two key concepts provided by our Cycle-of-Learning framework are how it handles the integration of the different human-interaction modalities (demonstration, intervention, and evaluation) and how to define the switching criteria between them.
This paper investigates how to utilize different forms of human interaction to safely train autonomous systems in real-time by learning from both human demonstrations and interventions. We implement two components of the Cycle-of-Learning for Autonomous Systems, which is our framework for combining multiple modalities of human interaction. The current effort employs human demonstrations to teach a desired behavior via imitation learning, then leverages intervention data to correct for undesired behaviors produced by the imitation learner to teach novel tasks to an autonomous agent safely, after only minutes of training. We demonstrate this method in an autonomous perching task using a quadrotor with continuous roll, pitch, yaw, and throttle commands and imagery captured from a downward-facing camera in a high-fidelity simulated environment. Our method improves task completion performance for the same amount of human interaction when compared to learning from demonstrations alone, while also requiring on average 32% less data to achieve that performance. This provides evidence that combining multiple modes of human interaction can increase both the training speed and overall performance of policies for autonomous systems.
Efficient exploration has presented a long-standing challenge in reinforcement learning, especially when rewards are sparse. A developmental system can overcome this difficulty by learning from both demonstrations and self-exploration. However, existing methods are not applicable to most real-world robotic controlling problems because they assume that environments follow Markov decision processes (MDP); thus, they do not extend to partially observable environments where historical observations are necessary for decision making. This paper builds on the idea of replaying demonstrations for memory-dependent continuous control, by proposing a novel algorithm, Recurrent Actor-Critic with Demonstration and Experience Replay (READER). Experiments involving several memory-crucial continuous control tasks reveal significantly reduce interactions with the environment using our method with a reasonably small number of demonstration samples. The algorithm also shows better sample efficiency and learning capabilities than a baseline reinforcement learning algorithm for memory-based control from demonstrations.
Reinforcement learning methods require careful design involving a reward function to obtain the desired action policy for a given task. In the absence of hand-crafted reward functions, prior work on the topic has proposed several methods for reward estimation by using expert state trajectories and action pairs. However, there are cases where complete or good action information cannot be obtained from expert demonstrations. We propose a novel reinforcement learning method in which the agent learns an internal model of observation on the basis of expert-demonstrated state trajectories to estimate rewards without completely learning the dynamics of the external environment from state-action pairs. The internal model is obtained in the form of a predictive model for the given expert state distribution. During reinforcement learning, the agent predicts the reward as a function of the difference between the actual state and the state predicted by the internal model. We conducted multiple experiments in environments of varying complexity, including the Super Mario Bros and Flappy Bird games. We show our method successfully trains good policies directly from expert game-play videos.